Dancing: The Crack I Took 32 Years To Get Addicted To

I’ve been meaning to write about dancing, and the role it’s come to play in my life, for a long time. And although what’s triggered me to finally sit down and write the damn post is something as trivial (and potentially self-serving, as you will see when you read on) as a coupon deal for the dance studio where I spend a lot of my time, I promise you that my main motivation for this post goes way beyond referral credits.

* * *

I spent the first twenty years of my life immersed in music and words, but the intensity of my involvement in those artistic pursuits was oddly balanced out by an almost complete lack of involvement in the worlds of dancing and the visual arts. I never went for ballet or art classes, and never thought of myself as someone who could dance or who had any visual creativity at all. My identity (insofar as I might have defined it in terms of what I was good at) was firmly founded on thinking of myself as a pianist, violinist, writer and debater. Also a total champ at Tumblepop and a virtuoso on the monkeybars, but that’s not really relevant to the topic of this post.

20-year-old me would have been extremely surprised to discover 32-year-old me listing dancing and photography as the two hobbies she overwhelmingly spends her free time on.

“Are you actually good at either of these things?” Michelle v20 would wonder.

“Nowhere near how good you are at the things you spent the first twenty years of your life doing!” Michelle v32 would reply merrily. “But somehow that’s what makes dancing and photography even more fun!”

* * *

So, dancing. (I’ll save photography for another time.) You can skim my “dance”-tagged posts if you want, but the tl;dr summary is: I discovered the funfest that is lindy hop at 20, danced it sporadically for the next 7 years or so, got lazy after marriage and didn’t do any dancing for nearly 4 years, took up West Coast Swing (that’s just 3 examples of how versatile the dance is in terms of what music you can dance to – and no, none of those dances were choreographed, they’re just people having fun improvising) in 2011 and that ended up being the gateway drug to spending more time, money and effort on dancing in 1 year than I ever had before. Besides West Coast Swing, which I’ve focused most of my energy on, I’ve also dipped my toe into hip hop, dancehall, exotic dancing, general body movement, Brazilian zouk and very recently tango, and have hugely enjoyed my limited experiences with those too.

Like I said, I’m not particularly good at any of this. I would describe myself as having utterly average levels of physical coordination, although my musical background does at least mean that discernment of counts, bars and phrasing is more or less hardwired into my brain. (This does NOT necessarily translate into me always moving my body on time, or having the dance vocabulary to express the phrasing my brain understands, but I still hold on to little blessings like that when the going gets tough.) And I’ve often wondered why the hell I’m slaving at something I have no strong natural aptitude in, rather than something which might come more easily to me, like practising my turntablism or picking up jazz piano.

But here’s the weird thing – the less natural aptitude you have for something, the more satisfying it is when you actually see yourself improve at it! Let’s take spinning, my ongoing dance nemesis. Do you know how awesome it feels to realize you have gone from “worst freaking spinner in the class, such that the guys either have to not spin you much or just keep compensating for your graceless veering off-course” to “able to keep up with average spinning demands, such that the guys now frequently spin you multiple times and it doesn’t end in epic failure”? IT FEELS PRETTY DAMN AWESOME. *does little spin*

The other big source of awesome which dancing has added to my life is the particular physical pleasure of partner dancing, which I strongly believe you can’t even begin to understand unless you’ve given it a try yourself. I really struggle with describing this to someone who’s never experienced it, but it’s completely different from what it feels like to just go crazy by yourself on a club dancefloor. It’s about experiencing the physical sensation of momentum with someone else – like how kids hold hands and spin each other round and round, except with far more different ways to get that feeling of “WHEEEEEE!”

* * *

Where am I going with all this? It’s basically my explanation for why I’m about to recommend a currently available coupon deal to anyone in Singapore who – like me – has never really thought of themselves as being able to dance, to whom dancing may just seem like something “other people” do. There are, of course, plenty of dance coupon deals out there, and plenty more places to learn dancing if you don’t limit yourself to somewhere offering a deal. But this deal is for classes at Mosaic Dance Studio, where I spend lots of my time, and that’s why I know it’s a deal worth recommending.

For $20, you get to try out 2 weeks of unlimited dance and fitness classes. The instructors are great, and the community is very friendly (which, to me, is actually quite important in sustaining my interest in a dance – I drifted away from lindy hop partly because I didn’t have much fun within its community, although I still adore the dance). If, at the end of 2 weeks, you’re not really feeling this whole dance thing, you’ve lost $20 and some time. But there’s a very real possibility, I think, that you’ll be surprised by how much you’ve enjoyed it.

If you go through my referral link to sign up at the deal site before you purchase the deal, you get $5 credit at the deal site and I get $10 credit.

Alternatively, if for whatever reason you don’t want to try that deal, but you do decide to try classes at Mosaic Dance Studio at some point as a result of this post, I think I also get some sort of referral reward (if you tell them about this post when you first register with them) though I can’t quite remember what. If you do this, you should of course let me know so that I can say hi and let you laugh at my spins in real life.

I realize my mentioning any of this referral credit stuff may come across as a bit tacky, and if you think it is, then feel totally free to ignore it. But please don’t ignore the main suggestion I’m making – if there is ever space in your life to fall unexpectedly in love with a new hobby, give dancing a try, somewhere, somehow, sometime.

4 Responses to Dancing: The Crack I Took 32 Years To Get Addicted To

  1. Eu says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Just wanted to say that I totally agree with you about dancing! I picked up Lindy Hop a while ago at Jitterbugs, and it was just so super fun and happy — not sultry or graceful like other dances, but just so happy. but I kind of drifted away from the LH dance scene after a bit (combination of work and the community, and also that there’s a huge imbalance of guys:girls in higher-level classes). I’m now based in Europe and your post inspired me to start searching for LH lessons again…

    • Michelle says:

      Yes, the happiness of lindy hop is exactly what drew me to it in the first place! (I remain completely uninterested in salsa because all the slickness and “woo, look at me, I’m so sexy!” vibes of it turn me off.) I’m really glad this post inspired you to go back to lindy hop, especially since Europe is such an awesome place to do it. :)

  2. James says:

    Good to hear. I really must go back to set dancing. I dabbled with salsa and hip hop for a while but my heart will always rest with set dancing because you can be kind of lazy and you don’t have to memorise much beyond what you saw in the last 30 seconds. That and the people tend to be sound.

    • Michelle says:

      Googled set dancing to see what it looked like, and apparently it is danced to music played by a young John Lithgow.

      I struggle with remembering choreo for hip hop too. But for something like salsa (or any other social dance), unless the classes you attended were pattern-obsessed there shouldn’t have been much to memorize beyond the actual technique. You would of course want to remember how to lead a few moves, but if your brother can handle that anyone can!

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